Harding University receives thousands of donations each year that help lower the total cost of tuition by one-third, and each year students dedicate a day to those donors. On March 1from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., students celebrated Say Thanks Day by taking time to show their appreciation to the donors. Students were able to stop in the Student Center to sign thank-you notes, make personal calls to donors and even share their gratitude on social media with the hashtag #saythanks17.
Say Thanks Day not only allows students to show their appreciation to donors, but also spreads awareness to students of contributions donors have made. According to Vice President of Advancement Bryan Burks, this is something many students aren’t quite aware of. Harding receives donations from around 6,000 to 7,000 donors in any given year, and those donations help fund the construction of buildings such as, the new Ganus Athletic Center and the Rhodes-Reaves Field house. These donations also help fund student athletic and academic scholarships.
“Any building you see on campus was not paid for by tuition,” Burks said. “It was paid for by generous donors who are willing to come in and say we need it.”
According to Generation HU Director Sarah Bobo, many students with scholarships don’t realize they were funded by donors, which is why Say Thanks Day exists. The goal, Bobo said, is to instill a sense of thankfulness in the hearts of the students and have them realize just how many donors contribute to their education at Harding. This was the third Say Thanks Day that Bobo has helped organize, and it has only grown since the first event six years ago.
“Every year it gets bigger and bigger as people remember what it is,” Bobo said. “There are more social media posts and there’s more energy as the years go on.”
Bobo had a number of students who worked with her to organize the event. Students on the Generation HU board as well as students involved with the Student Association, helped develop a theme and sought out volunteers. This year, over 100 students volunteered with the event and helped distribute donuts to students who signed thank-you notes in the student center. Student Association Sophomore Class Representative Julie Plunket was not only involved with helping to organize the event, but spent two hours calling to thank donors.
“I really do think that it’s an awesome event and purposeful,” Plunket said. “Simply hearing the donor’s response.”
According to Plunket the donors who received calls were surprised and appreciative. Plunket said she plans to continue participating in the event in the future to continue to say thanks to the donors who continuously make a difference here at Harding.